Saturday, 31 March 2018

Ancient Writers Were Unable to Deny the Historicity of Jesus

Jesus’ tomb is still empty. Image courtesy of Phillip Benshmuel, CC BY-SA 4.0.





Joel Kontinen

There is strong evidence for the historicity of Jesus. Of non-biblical 1st and 2nd century writers, Josephus (37–100), Tacitus (55–117), Suestonius (69–140), Plinius the Younger (ca. 61–113), Lukianos (125–190), Celsus and Mara bar Serapion either mention Him by name or refer to His crucifixion.

Even those who were antagonistic towards Christianity were unable to deny that He was a real historical person though they might have doubted His divinity.

Writing in Biblical Archaeology Review, Associate Professor Lawrence Mykytiuk discusses 1st and 2nd century non-biblical authors who wrote about or referred to Jesus or His followers. “As far as we know, no ancient person ever seriously argued that Jesus did not exist,” he concludes.

Quoting New Testament Professor Robert Van Voorst, he says,”No pagans and Jews who opposed Christianity denied Jesus’ historicity or even questioned it.”

Professor Van Voorst went on to say, “If anyone in the ancient world had a reason to dislike the Christian faith, it was the rabbis. To argue successfully that Jesus never existed but was a creation of early Christians would have been the most effective polemic against Christianity … [Yet] all Jewish sources treated Jesus as a fully historical person … The rabbis … used the real events of Jesus’ life against him.”

So, if someone comes up with a conspiracy theory that denies the historicity of Jesus or the resurrection, we know it is a fable.

The real Jesus lived on Earth for a little while, suffered for our sins, and rose from the dead.

The empty tomb reminds us that the Gospels recount real history.

Source:

Mykytiuk, Lawrence. 2015. Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible. Biblical Archaeology Review 41 (1), 44–51, 76.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Pluto’s Youthful Looks Continue to Puzzle Scientists

Pluto looks young. Image courtesy of NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.



Joel Kontinen

When NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto in July 2015, scientists were expecting to see a dwarf planet that looked old and its largest moon Charon to be full of impact craters.

However, what they saw blew their socks off, as NASA researcher Cathy Olkin put it in a New Horizons press conference.

Pluto looked far too young to fit into a 4.6 billion year old universe, and so did Charon.

Subsequent images sent by New Horizons showed more evidence for youth.

Pluto is too small to generate heat and too far away from the Sun to benefit from solar energy, but it is geologically active.

Believers in deep time have had a hard time figuring out why Pluto looks youthful. The latest explanation features flowing nitrogen ice that could be “acting as its fountain of youth.”

Pluto is not the only dwarf planet that looks younger than expected.

Ceres is another great puzzle for long-agers.

Jupiter’s moons Io and Europa also look too young.

The obvious solution: They are.

Source:

Crane, Leah. 2018. Gooey nitrogen ice may make Pluto’s crater-free heart look young. New Scientist (27 March).

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Flat-Earther Makes It to Space (Sort of) and Back

Logo of the Flat Earth Society. Image courtesy of Blanko, CC BY-SA 4.0.





Joel Kontinen

After two failed attempts, self-made rocket builder Mike Hughes finally managed to take to the skies in his space vehicle.

He reached an altitude of 572 metres (1,875 feet) above the Mojave Desert in California before parachuting to the earth.

Mr. Hughes believes the earth is flat, and his motive in blasting to the skies was to prove that he was right.

That was something he was unable to do this time, so he hopes to build a more powerful rocked that would carry him to an altitude of 110 kilometres (68 miles).

He hopes to prove his thesis by taking high-altitude photographs.

However, NASA beat him by 50 years. The pictures the Apollo 8 astronauts took while orbiting the Moon show that the Earth is round.

The earthrise photos tell the same story.

The modern flat earth myth probably hails from Washington Irving’s (1783–1859) fictional biography of Christopher Columbus. Obviously, some seamen were afraid of falling over the earth’s edge.

However, there never was a time in Medieval Europe when most people believed our planet was flat.

Coins and symbols made in the Holy Roman Empire depicted a round earth, and so did Medieval scholars.

Source:

Bryner, Jeanna. 2018. Flat-Earther Blasts Himself into the Sky on Homemade Rocket (and He Survives). Live Science (25 March).

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Stonehenge, Pyramids and Sophisticated Devices Defy Darwinian Views of Ancient Man

Could there be a link between Stonehenge and ancient astronomy? Image courtesy of Andrew Dunn, CC BY-SA 2.0.





Joel Kontinen

Many people tend to think that ancient men could not have been as clever as we are. This is in keeping with the Darwinian idea that humans evolved very gradually from ape-like creatures and learning was a slow hit-or-miss affair. They were not expected to accomplish much intellectually.

However, the pyramids, Stonehenge and other ancient monuments and devices tell an entirely different kind of story.

In 2016 Science reported on the work of Mathieu Ossendrijver of Humboldt University in Berlin, who examined Babylonian clay tablets hailing from 350 BC to 50 BC.

Babylonian astronomers “also employed sophisticated geometric methods that foreshadow the development of calculus. Historians had thought such techniques did not emerge until more than 1400 years later, in 14th century Europe.”

Dr. Ossendrijver also published a report in Science entitled The Ancient Babylonian astronomers calculated Jupiter’s position from the area under a time-velocity graph.

The 2000-year old Antikythera Mechanism likewise challenges our views of ancient man. It is a multi-purpose calendar and computer. It could, among other things, be used to predict astronomical events such as solar eclipses and the timing of the Ancient Olympic Games.

A recent article in The Conversation examines the correlation of stars and ancient monuments and concludes that there might indeed be a link, but we cannot be sure of this.

Anyhow, even entirely oral cultures could have prodigious knowledge about constellations and stars.

In 2016 New Scientist wrote about Bill Yidumduma Harney, an Aboriginal Australian who could identify 3,000 stars in the night sky. How many astronomy professors could beat him in that game?


Sources:

Brown, Daniel. 2018. From the pyramids to Stonehenge – were prehistoric people astronomers? The Conversation (12 March).

Cowen, Ron. 2016. Math whizzes of ancient Babylon figured out forerunner of calculus. Science (28 January).

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Clever (Talking?) Trees Defy Darwinian Expectations

Darwin was totally ignorant of the surprisingly elegant ways that trees communicate with each other.



Joel Kontinen

Do Trees Talk to Each Other? Peter Wohlleben is a German forester who believes that they do.

Recent years have brought about amazing discoveries about trees and other plants.

We now know that trees sleep at night.

They have their own wood wide web (www) through which they share information.

Flowering plants are almost as clever; they have their e-mail system through which they engage in shoot to root communication.

In his book The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate, originally published in German as Das geheime Leben der Bäume, Peter Wohlleben discusses the amazingly communal life of trees.

Entering his world of trees is like stepping into a fairy tale where trees are very much alive.

Smithsonian Magazine gives us a hint of what is going on:

The trees have become vibrantly alive and charged with wonder. They’re communicating with one another, for starters. They’re involved in tremendous struggles and death-defying dramas. To reach enormousness, they depend on a complicated web of relationships, alliances and kinship networks.

Wise old mother trees feed their saplings with liquid sugar and warn the neighbors when danger approaches. Reckless youngsters take foolhardy risks with leaf-shedding, light-chasing and excessive drinking, and usually pay with their lives. Crown princes wait for the old monarchs to fall, so they can take their place in the full glory of sunlight. It’s all happening in the ultra-slow motion that is tree time, so that what we see is a freeze-frame of the action.


This is as far as one could get from the Darwinian world in which trees are “striving, disconnected loners, competing for water, nutrients and sunlight, with the winners shading out the losers and sucking them dry.”

Instead of competing, trees form alliances, even with other species.

Smithsonian Magazine tries in vain to preserve at least a tweeny weeny bit of evolution, but the message emanating from the woods is clear: Darwin’s time has gone. Intelligent design explains tree sociology (if we can call it that) much better.

Source:

Grant, Richard. 2018. Do Trees Talk to Each Other? Smithsonian Magazine. (March).

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Evolution Can Explain Cancer But Hardly Anything Else

Charles Darwin’s famous “I Think” sketch, 1837. Public domain. It might explain cancer but hardly anything else.




Joel Kontinen

Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution is the title on an essay Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900–1975) wrote for the American Biology Teacher magazine in 1973.

Recently, Mel Greaves, who seems to be a firm believer in Darwinian medicine, wrote an article entitled Nothing in cancer makes sense except…

The name is no accident, as Greaves references Dobzhansky’s essay and tries to persuade his readers that evolution can explain cancer.

It is perhaps a very fitting meaning of evolution, as even in theory, Darwinism can only break things and never make them.

Our cells have several strategies for getting rid of rogue or unwanted growth that could cause cancer, for instance apoptosis or programmed cell death and phagocytosis or the process of self-eating, where cells called macrophages or ‘big eaters’ (μακρος, makros ‘large’ and φαγειν. phagein ‘eat’) devour damaged cells.

These mechanisms are the opposite of Darwinian evolution.

This is not the first time Darwinists invoke cancer as an explanation for evolution.

Source:

Greaves, Mel et al. 2018. Nothing in cancer makes sense except… BMC Biology201816:22 (21 February).

Monday, 19 March 2018

Ancient Deer Turned into a Whale in New Darwinian Tale


Some think Ambulocetus looked like this. Image courtesy of Nobu Tamura, CC BY-SA 4.0.





Joel Kontinen

Darwinian stories can be both fascinating and bizarre – at the very same time.

Marine creatures left the sea because they saw food on land. Now New Scientist is telling us that land creatures returned to the sea as the shallow waters were so full of food.

This time it was supposed to be a deer that metamorphosed into a whale.

Thus, in a typical Darwinian scenario, the poor creatures kept on going back and forth until they found their preferred element.

In the early 1980s, evolutionists announced the discovery of Pakicetus, the grandmother of all marine whales, with great fanfare.

They believe that it lived ”52 million years” ago.

A diving Pakicetus made it to the cover of Science.

Later, after they found more bones, they had to acknowledge that Pakicetus was a land animal.

Then in 2011, researchers found a whale jawbone in Antarctica. “Dated” at 49 million years, it almost as old as its assumed land-loving ancestor, leaving far too little time for evolution.

There are other difficulties as well.

Mathematician and philosopher Dr. David Berlinski calculated that a cow-like creature living on dry land would have needed at least 50, 000 morphological changes for a move to the sea.

From skin to the breathing apparatus, almost everything had to be changed if the cow wanted to stay alive in its new watery environment.

Like transforming a car into a submarine, it would have needed an enormous amount of changes, making the entire scenario impossible.

Source:

Barras, Colin. 2018. Why ancient deer returned to the sea and became whales. New Scientist (19 March).

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Relicts of Noah’s Flood and the Ice Age in Sahara

The Sahara was once wetter. Image courtesy of Luca Galuzzi, CC BY-SA 2.5.




Joel Kontinen

The Sahara desert was once a lot wetter place than it is today (although some parts got a brief snow cover recently).

It is very likely that this wet epoch followed Noah’s Flood, which obviously left the ground wetter than it is now, and the ice age that followed would also have kept moisture in the ground.

A paper published in the journal Nature Plants written by researchers from the universities of Huddersfield, Rome and Modena & Reggio Emilia finds evidence for cultivating and storing cereals.

According to Science Daily, “a chemical analysis of pottery from the site demonstrates that cereal soup and cheese were being produced.”

They believe that this was at a time (ca. 8,000 BC) when humans were supposed to be hunter-gatherers. The timing is way off by 4,000 years or so.

The Sahara also holds – or has held – other relics from the Flood, such as an imposing natural archway and a catfish fossil.

Source:

University of Huddersfield. 2018. The absence of ants: Entomologist confirms first Saharan farming 10,000 years ago. Science Daily (16 March).


Friday, 16 March 2018

“Sea Monster” Fossil Shows Darwin-Defying Diversity in Cambrian Era Brains

Kerygmachela kierkegaardi might have looked like this. Image courtesy of Apokryltaros, CC BY 2.5.



Joel Kontinen

For Charles Darwin, the sudden appearance of complex animals in the Cambrian was a huge dilemma.

And since then, the situation has become even worse. In 2012 University of Bath evolutionary biologist Matthew Wills acknowledged that Cambrian fossils “can cause a real headache for evolutionary biologists.”

Cambrian creatures tend to be far too complex for evolution.

Some, like Chengjiangocaris kunmingensis, have a very complex brain. Science reported that a shrimp-like creature dubbed Fuxianhuia protensa presumably did a fair amount of thinking.”

We can also see Darwin-defying diversity in Cambrian creatures.

Kerygmachela kierkegaardi is a 25 cm (10 in.) long “sea monster” found in Greenland.

Assumed to be “520 million years” old, it is “a bizarre, oval-shaped water beast that had two long appendages on its head, 11 swimming flaps on each side and a skinny tail,” Live Science quotes palaeontologist Jakob Vinther as saying.

The researchers also found 15 fossilized brains, which differed considerably from other Cambrian Era brains by being slightly less complex:

An anatomical analysis showed that K. kierkegaardi's brain innervated the creature's large eyes and the frontal appendages it used to grasp its tasty victims, the researchers said.”

Darwinians could never have expected to see such diversity in Cambrian animals.

Source:

Geggel, Laura. 2018. Fossilized Brains of Ancient 'Sea Monster' Discovered in Greenland. Live Science. (15 March).

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Don’t Expect to Find Little Green Men on New Exoplanet K2-155d


Kepler found some new exoplanets. Image courtesy of NASA Ames/ W Stenzel, Public Domain.




Joel Kontinen

This time there’s less fanfare and speculation. Two papers published in the Astronomical Journal introduce us to 15 new exoplanets some 200 light years from us.

The post promising candidate is K2-155d that orbits a bright red dwarf. It obviously has a radius 1.6 times that of Earth’s.

Researchers think that K2-155d “could be a super-Earth located within the habitable zone,” as an article in International Business Times put it.

Once again, they are speculating about water, but there’s a big hitch.

" ‘In our simulations, the atmosphere and the composition of the planet were assumed to be Earth-like, and there's no guarantee that this is the case,’ Teruyuki Hirano, the lead researcher of the new study, from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, said in a statement.”

And then come the problems: Dwarf stars tend to be unstable and bombard their planets with intense solar flares.

These planets are probably tidally locked like Mercury in our solar system, with the same side always facing its sun.

It is very likely that this applies to the Trappist-1 system and to Proxima-b, and now we’ll probably have to add K2-155d to the list of has-beens.

What is more, getting from being habitable to actually having life is an enormous leap that naturalistic processes cannot pull off.

Life, as Louis Pasteur showed, only comes from life.


Source:

Ashok, India Aishani. 2018. 15 New Exoplanets Discovered Near Solar System, One Could Have Liquid Water. International Business Times (3 March).


Monday, 12 March 2018

Darwinian Psychologist Wants to Create Human-Chimp Hybrids

Image courtesy of Delphine Bruyere, CC BY-SA 3.0.






Joel Kontinen


Human exceptionalism is a Darwinian enigma, but they are very reluctant to give up the notion that we are mere animals.

At times, they use bizarre means in trying to convince others of our assumed apehood.

Recently, an outlandish rumour surfaced. It claimed that in the 1920s a female chimpanzee was supposedly inseminated with human semen and gave birth to a “humanzee” in a US research centre that was established in the 1930s.

Russian biologist Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov (1870 –1932) also attempted to produce a human-chimp hybrid, but his experiments failed., as such a hybrid is biologically impossible.

Now, University of Washington psychology professor emeritus David P. Barash wants to use the gene-editing CRISPR technology to create human–chimp hybrid.

Barash hates Christianity and aims to show that humans are nothing more than apes though all the evidence points to creation.

Why, then, are some hybrids possible?

While lions and tigers are currently classified as different species, they belong to the same Genesis kind, and can thus produce ligers.

The same applies to zonkeys (donkey + zebra), geeps (goat + sheep) and grolars (grizzly bear + polar bear).

These hybrids show us exactly the opposite of what Prof. Barash wants us to believe. They confirm the Genesis after its kind principle

Source:

Smith, Wesley J. 2018. Darwinist David Barash Wants Us to Create “Humanzees”. Evolution News & Science Today. (9 March).

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Earth’s Magnetic Field Is Still Decaying

Image courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, CC BY-SA 2.0.




Joel Kontinen

For the past 160 years, the strength of the magnetic field has been decreasing at an alarming rate,” says a press release issued by the University. of Rochester.

University of Rochester professor John Tarduno and colleagues went to southern Africa to examine an area called known as the South Atlantic Anomaly.

They think that something spectacular is happening there.

The magnetic field is generated by swirling, liquid iron in Earth’s outer core. It is here, roughly 1800 miles beneath the African continent, that a special feature exists. Seismological data has revealed a denser region deep beneath southern Africa called the African Large Low Shear Velocity Province. The region is located right above the boundary between the hot liquid outer core and the stiffer, cooler mantle. Sitting on top of the liquid outer core, it may sink slightly, disturbing the flow of iron and ultimately affecting Earth’s magnetic field.

Earth’s magnetic field protects us from radiation coming from the Sun

Research has shown that Earth had a magnetic field from the beginning.
.
The weakening of the magnetic field is a huge problem for those who believe in billions of years, so they have to believe that it is “a recurrent anomaly” and invoke magnetic reversals.

However, there is no known mechanism that could cause such reversals.

Source:

University of Rochester. 2018. New data helps explain recent fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field (27 February).

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Singing Blue Whales Defy Darwinian Explanations

Blue whale mother and calf. Image courtesy of Andreas Tille, CC BY-SA 4.0.




Joel Kontinen


Birds are not the only animals that like to sing. At least one fish species can also sing.

And there’s more. Natural Geographic reports on the singing skills of blue whales:

“The biggest animal to ever live is also the loudest, and it likes to sing at sunset, babble into the night, talk quietly with those nearby, and shout to colleagues 60 miles away.”

Previously. little was known about their singing, Now, “In the first effort of its kind, Ana Širović, an oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, and her team scoured a collection of more than 4,500 recordings of blue whale sounds taken from underwater microphones at over a dozen locations over 14 years, from 2002 to 2016, in southern California. The researchers then synced the recordings with the movements of 121 whales that had been tagged with suction-cup trackers. What they learned challenged many assumptions about these noisy beasts.”

They discovered that males did most of the singing.

It’s practically impossible to invoke evolution in explaining why three very different kinds of animals – birds, fish and marine mammals – like to sing.

Convergent evolution would not be a viable explanation.

Source:

Welch, Craig. 2018. Elusive Blue Whale Behavior Revealed by Their Songs. National Geographic (15 February).

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Cambrian Shrimp Cared for its Offspring

Fuxianhuia protensa. Image courtesy of Nobu Tamura, CC BY-SA 4.0.



Joel Kontinen

A Cambrian shrimp “dated” at 520 million years cared for its offspring, a recently discovered fossil shows.

As Darwinians want to see some evolution here. they prefer to call Fuxianhuia protensa a shrimp-like creature.

Evolution cannot explain parental care, which fits in well with the creation model.

It seems that God gave animal mothers the instinct to care for their young.

The assumed Cambrian Era was a big dilemma for Darwin.

Recent discoveries, including soft tissues, have made it an even bigger headache for evolutionists.


Source:

Fox-Skelly, Jasmin. 2018. Fossil shows a mother caring for her young 520 million years ago. New Scientist (5 March).

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Owls, Penguins and Kingfishers Inspire Quieter and More Efficient Bullet Trains

Bullet trains in Japan. Image courtesy of DAMASA, CC BY-SA 3.0.




Joel Kontinen

Design in nature is so obvious that it’s practically impossible to deny it.

The University of Guelph newsletter recounts how Japanese engineers solved the sonic boom problem caused by high-speed bullet trains that could reach a speed of 270 km /hour (170 mph).

But every time the train came out of a tunnel it caused a sonic boom that could be heard from 400 metres away.

It needed to be resigned. The research team solved the problem by drawing inspiration from the owl’s feather, the penguin’s belly and the kingfisher’s nose.

The resigned was ”10 per cent faster, used 15 per cent less electricity and travelled under the noise limit in residential areas.

Unfortunately, writer Vicky Lin attributes the amazing design found in birds to Darwinian evolution, concluding: “Evolution has done a lot of research for us.

However, Darwinian processes are blind. They can’t design anything. Nature abounds with intelligent solutions that defy evolutionary explanations. (See examples here, here, here, here and here.).

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20, NIV).

Source:

Lin, Vicky. 2018. Sustainability solutions and technological innovations are regularly found in nature, writes Vicky Lin. Guelph Mercury (19 February).

Friday, 2 March 2018

Weird Supercreature Found in Japan

The tardigrade looks a bit like a bear. Image courtesy of E. Schokraie, U. Warnken, A. Hotz-Wagenblatt, MA. Grohme, S. Hengherr, et al. Comparative proteome analysis of Milnesium tardigradum in early embryonic state versus adults in active and anhydrobiotic state. PLoS ONE 7(9): e45682 (2012). Creative Commons (CC BY 2.5).




Joel Kontinen

Tardigrades might be tiny – only 0.5 mm (0.020 in) long – but they are amazingly tough.

They are already found in the Cambrian strata “530 million years” ago, which means that evolutionists see them as one of the oldest kinds of living fossils.


Known as water bears for their somewhat ursine appearance, they seem to thrive in extreme conditions, both cold ( -272 °C or -458 °F) and hot (150 °C or 300 °F). Moreover, they can fast ten years without even taking in water, and still survive.

There’s more. A tardigrade found by Japanese scientists in the Antarctic in 1983 was defrosted and it gave birth after being frozen for 30 years.

Recently, a new tardigrade species was found in the parking lot of an apartment building in Japan. Dubbed Macrobiotus shonaicus, it is perhaps even weirder than others.

Live Science points out a bizarre trait in this sturdy creature:

Perhaps the weirdest aspect of M. shonaicus, though, is its eggs. The spherical eggs are studded with miniscule, chalice-shaped protrusions, each of which is topped with a ring of delicate, noodle-like filaments. These features might help the egg attach to the surface where it is laid, [tardigrade expert Kazuharu] Arakawa said. “

The tardigrade’s traits speak of a Designer who skilfully made every living creature.

Source:

Pappas, Stephanie. 2018. An Even-Weirder-Than-Usual Tardigrade Just Turned Up in a Parking Lot. Live Science (28 February).